Family Farm Action Alliance released the following statement in response to the reintroduction of the Justice for Black Farmers Act by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tina Smith (D-MN), Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
“Family Farm Action Alliance applauds the introduction of the Justice for Black Farmers Act and stands in support of the sponsoring Senators and lead organizations. It is time to take the steps necessary to right the injustices that Black farmers have faced in our country, including discrimination within local, state and federal government, that has stripped them of the opportunity to farm and to thrive. This legislation is an important step to end systemic discrimination by redistributing power and providing land and resources so that all farmers may have the opportunity to steward the land, feed their communities, and to prosper.”
Media Contact: Angela Huffman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Key Provisions of the Justice for Black Farmers Act
This bill takes up issues at the root of historic racial discrimination in U.S. agriculture by:
- Establishing an Independent Civil Rights Oversight Board to review civil rights complaint appeals and investigate discrimination reports with USDA. The Board would also provide oversight of Farm Service Agency County Committees
- Creating an Equity Commission to develop recommendations to end disparities in treatment of Black farmers
- Forming a Black Farmer Land Grant through a new line agency at USDA where land of up to 160 acres would be available to Black individuals at no cost
- Increasing credit access and land retention for marginalized farmers
- Funding historically Black colleges and universities at a level of $500 million per year for 10 years to expand agricultural education
- Providing additional funding and technical expertise to assist with resolving heirship issues for existing Black farmers
- Strengthening existing antitrust enforcement through the Packers and Stockyards Act, with the knowledge that food chain workers of color are additionally vulnerable to economic and labor exploitation
Discrimination against Black farmers is sewn into the fabric of U.S. agriculture. In 1910, Black farmers owned 16 to 19 million acres of land and made up 14% of America’s farmers, while in 2017 Black farmers operated on just 4.7 million acres of farmland and accounted for 1.4% of farmers in the U.S. Much of this land loss can be attributed to discriminatory lending, particularly by the hands of USDA.
Black land and farm loss is a symptom of disproportionate harm from corporate consolidation and industrialization of agriculture, when compared to harms experienced by white farmers. The Justice For Black Farmers Act recognizes this, providing a well-rounded approach and building the solid foundation needed to address the ongoing legacy of systemic racism and injustice that Black farmers have experienced in the United States.